On the same day 150 individuals came to the Capitol to testify—mostly against the spending cuts in Gov. M. Jodi Rell’s deficit mitigation plan—both political parties agreed to take a look at millions of dollars in longevity bonuses that the state pays its non-union employees.
Twice a year the state makes payments to 4,000 non-union employees who have worked in state service for more than 10 years. That means Connecticut State University Chancellor David Carter will get more than $24,000, in addition to his salary, just for continuing to work for the state. The governor’s Chief of Staff M. Lisa Moody will receive $9,968, and the Chief State’s Attorney Kevin Kane will receive $9,159. And those are just a few examples of non-union employees scheduled to receive half of that bonus on April 1. The second half is paid on Oct. 1.
Following this article in Thursday’s Stamford Advocate, Republican leaders renewed their call to, at the very least, suspend the bonuses of the non-union employees as the state deals with its budget deficit.
“It’s not based on merit, it’s not based on anything else, but twice a year you get a check,” House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero, R-Norwalk, said.
The practice of longevity payments has been on the books since the 1960s.
But when times are tough lawmakers on both sides of the aisle find it hard to justify these bonuses, which can top more than $10,000 for at least 38 employees.
“I believe suspending the longevity payments makes sense given the tough choices we have,“ Senate President Donald Williams, said, in an emailed statement Thursday night. “It is one of many proposals we’re looking at to help balance the budget.”
“It just doesn’t make any sense when we’re talking about cutting programs to balance our state budget,” Senate Minority Leader John McKinney, R-Fairfield, said.
“It’s difficult even in good times to explain to people in the state why someone gets a $10,000, $25,000 bonus simply because they’ve stayed an extra year,” McKinney said.
Cafero said he’s not advocating taking away the longevity payments that unionized employees receive because those payments are capped at $1,000 per person and are negotiated as part of the State Employees Bargaining Coalition agreement. Non-union bonuses reached a maximum of $24,000, which is a calculated based on salary and service time.
Last year the bonuses, both union and non-union, cost the state of Connecticut $43 million.
“It should offend those who don’t want to see their social programs cut, and fiscal conservatives,” Cafero said.
Cafero and McKinney believe the legislature can act quickly to delay the longevity bonuses for non-union employees before they’re doled out on April 1.
“We’re sitting here in every room in this building debating what tax should we increase, or what source should we borrow from, or which program should be cut,” Cafero said. “No one’s going to lose their job over this.”